Lake Preston Medical Student Signs with HRMC Physicians Clinic
July 05, 2019
HURON, SD – Cole VanBockern, of Lake Preston, is headed to medical school in Des Moines, Iowa this month and recently signed an agreement to return to his home state and practice family medicine at the HRMC Physicians Clinic.
VanBockern, who graduated from Arlington High School in 2013, attended South Dakota State University (SDSU) and originally pursued a degree in electrical engineering.
“As I was working on my degree, focusing on engineering in the medical field, I had the opportunity to shadow a family physician in Watertown and decided that a degree in pre-med was really a better fit for me,” said VanBockern. “Once I switched my major, I knew I made the right choice because I really loved all my pre-med courses.”
He graduated with a bachelor of science in Biological Sciences from SDSU and begins classes this month at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. It was through another shadow experience, this time in Huron, that VanBockern chose to pursue an osteopathic degree in medicine.
“I actually had the chance to shadow with Dr. Sara Castellanos at the Women’s Wellness Center during my undergraduate program,” explained VanBockern. “Through my research and from watching Dr. Castellanos, I learned that doctors of osteopathy can practice like an MD, but also learn additional techniques and training to focus on the whole person with a mind, body and spirit approach.”
Through a connection at Huron Christian Church, where VanBockern attends regularly, he learned about Huron Regional Medical Center’s physician recruitment package. HRMC controller Joel Nelson had heard VanBockern was planning to attend medical school and shared information about the hospital’s program which allows local students to receive financial support during medical school and residency, plus have their medical school loans repaid through a five-year work commitment in Huron. Listen to Cole's story here)
“I’m excited Cole has chosen to commit to returning to his home area and practice rural medicine,” said David Dick, HRMC president & CEO. “Cole values community connections and as a rural physician he can have a positive impact for many years to come.”
VanBockern signed an agreement with HRMC in April and after four years of medical school, he hopes to complete his residency in South Dakota and then return to Huron and begin a family medicin(e practice.
“When I shadowed the family doctor, I could envision myself doing what he did every day because I just love being able to make connections with people,” said VanBockern. “In family medicine you get to make connections with your patients and then follow those relationships through for a long period of time – becoming part of the community and caring for kids, parents and grandparents and generations to come.”
VanBockern is HRMC’s newest recruit and joins three others who will return to Huron to practice over the next several years. Dr. Tony Loewen, who is completing his residency in Colorado, will return to his hometown next summer to practice general surgery; Dr. Rebecca Runge, who grew up in Wessington and will soon begin an internal medicine residency in Sioux Falls, plans to return to Huron and practice in 2022; and Dr. Kevin Hofer, who is in his second year of orthopedic residency in Wichita, Kansas, plans to return to practice in Huron in 2023.
Students or community members interested in learning more about physician and healthcare career recruitment opportunities are encouraged to visit www.huronregional.org/about-us/join-our-team or call 605-353-6565.
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